floor refinishing

How much does it cost to refinish hardwood floors?

May 15, 2022
 |  By: 
Improvix Hardwood Flooring

Refinishing or buffing and recoating hardwood floors is a great way to restore their luster without the expense of replacing them. But just how much will it cost? The total price depends on several factors, including the size and condition of your floor.

If you're lucky enough to have hardwood floors in your home—or considering installing them—you'll want to take good care of them to last for years. Refinishing is important in ensuring that your floors stay in good condition (and look beautiful).

It involves sanding down the old finish and applying a new one, which refreshes the appearance of the wood and protects it from wear and tear.

How much does it cost to refinish wood floors?

Thousands of homeowners decide to refinish floors to their former glory every year. Refinishing a hardwood floor isn't something you need to do often, but knowing how much it will cost when the time comes is important. 

You might think that refinishing would be an expensive process, but hardwood floor refinishing is quite affordable compared to tearing up your old floors and replacing them, which can cost anywhere from $1.00 to $5.00 per square foot HomeAdvisor's True Cost Guide.

The cost of refinishing varies depending on how many layers of finish are already on your floors and whether or not there are any stains needing removal, but typically runs between $2.00 and $4.00 per.

What's in this cost guide?

If you're looking for a cost guide on refinishing hardwood floors or floors that look like wood, you've come to the right place. This guide will give you a breakdown of the costs of hiring professionals to refinish your floors.

The cost to refinish your floors ranges from about $1,600 to more than $4,000, depending on the type of hardwood you have and the level of refinishing required. If you are looking for a professional quote for your flooring job, we can put you in touch with a local contractor who can help.

This guide covers all aspects of floor refinishing, so you know what to expect and can be ready for any eventuality.

Labor costs for refinishing floors

Professional refinishing costs depend on multiple factors, including the size of the room or rooms that will be refinished, any necessary repairs before refinishing can begin, what type of finish is used, and any special techniques that might be needed.

It also depends on where you live—demand for refinishing services will vary by region according to geographical location and the time of year. Labor costs account for around half the total cost of around $2-$3 per square foot.

A professional usually charge an additional fee if they have to remove old flooring before installing new wood. Of course, these prices also include materials, wood, and labor costs required to install it.

 Types of Hardwood floors

Hardwood floor refinishing is an excellent way to add value to your home and change the appearance of your interiors. Many types of hardwood flooring include cherry, hickory, maple, oak, and walnut.

Most hardwoods are not very dense and have light colors with a smooth grain pattern. The most popular hardwoods used for flooring include cherry, hickory, maple, oak, and walnut.

Each type of wood has characteristics that make it unique and suitable for different applications. Today's most common wood species in flooring is oak because it's durable and easy to work with.

There are lots of different types of hardwood floors, but the kind you choose will depend on whether you want a classic look or something more contemporary:

Cherry wood

Cherry is a durable hardwood that grows in North America. It's known for its smooth feel and rich color that ranges from a light tan to deep brown, often with red tones. The reddish tint makes it easy to distinguish from other kinds of wood.

Cherry wood has a distinctive grain that becomes more pronounced with age, giving it an interesting "antique" look. You can expect the price per square foot to range from $5-$10.


Parquet floors are made up of individual pieces of hardwood arranged in geometric patterns. This is it if you're looking for a classic design element that adds warmth and sophistication! The cost will vary depending on the type and size of wood used but generally ranges between $10-$25 per square foot installed.


Oak is one of the most common hardwood floors because it's durable and can be refinished several times before needing replacement (which may never happen!).

Factors in Calculating the Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors

When homeowners think about refinishing their hardwood floors, one of the first questions that come to mind is, "How much will it cost?" Unfortunately, there's no simple answer to that question.

Many factors determine the cost to refinish hardwood floors—the size of the room or rooms, whether they're coated or finished, the condition and age of the wood, and more. Let's look at the main factors in calculating the cost to refinish your hardwood floors.

Size of Room or Home

If you're refinishing your hardwood floors, you must understand the various factors that will impact the cost of doing so. The size of the room, or your entire home, is the first and most obvious thing that will influence how much you pay.

The bigger the space, the square footage there is to cover, and therefore, the more materials it will take to apply a new coating. In addition to size, two other major factors include:

Coating or Finishing

Choosing a stain or clear coating can make a big price difference. A stain costs less than a finish because it only requires one coat; however, you'll need several coats for adequate protection with a finish.

Finishes come in oil-based or water-based varieties and can be polyurethane or varnish. Polyurethane is more durable and offers better protection against scratches. At the same time, the varnish is cheaper but may require more frequent replacement.

There are two main types of coatings: oil-based polyurethane and water-based polyurethane. The oil-based polyurethane has a more traditional look. Still, it takes longer to dry and has higher VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can cause health problems. The water-based polyurethane is easier to apply and dries faster. Still, this type has a more plastic appearance and turns yellow over time.


When you get your floor refinished, there are many different strains to choose from. The most common is standard stain, which is used on oak floors. However, if you have a unique type of wood like Mahogany or Douglas Fir, you may want to use a special stain for more character in your flooring.

Staining can be a tricky business, so if you choose this option, make sure you hire someone who knows what they're doing! It's also important not to let them apply too much or too little stain since both will cause noticeable problems later.


Sanding removes scratches and smooths out irregularities in the wood. Sanding your floors is another job that's best for professionals. You can save money by doing some prep work, but removing old coatings, polishing off scratches, and evening out dings will take a lot of elbow grease.

It also removes old finishes and prepares the floor for new ones. It's usually required if you're not staining. Sanding costs $2 to $3 per square foot.

Material Costs

The cost of materials comes out of the budget for labor but varies considerably depending on what materials you use. Polyurethane is one of the most popular finishing materials. Still, there are also wax, shellac, lacquer, linseed oil, and water-based finishes.

Polyurethane is ideal for high-traffic areas because it's durable and easy to clean but doesn't have a very inviting look or feel compared with other materials.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Costs

Hardwood floor refinishing brings tired and worn floors back to life by sanding and applying a new finish. The process involves removing the existing finish from your hardwood floors, leveling out uneven spots, and applying a new stain and finish.

Sanding also removes scratches and other damage that may have occurred over time. Refinishing can bring your hardwood floors back to their original condition, but it takes more than just a sander to get the job done right.

The average cost to refinish hardwood floors is $970 to $1,250 per 300 square feet. This cost assumes you're hiring a professional. The total price includes sanding, stain, polyurethane, and labor costs. The typical cost range is $2 to $3 per square foot, with labor making up roughly half the cost and materials making up the other half.

If you want to save money and do it yourself, expect to pay around $50 for a package of sandpaper that can cover approximately 150 square feet -- enough for a two-bedroom apartment or small house -- plus the price of stain, polyurethane, and other supplies like rags and painter's tape.

Cost of refinishing wood floors

Wood flooring can last for decades, but eventually, it will need refinishing. Refinishing hardwood floors is essential to maintain their quality. A good way to tell if they need it is by checking the finish. If you can see the wood grain through the surface, your floors are probably ready to be refinished.

The average cost of this service comes to around $2 per square foot, with most homeowners paying between $1.25 and $2.50 per square foot.

The final price depends on several factors such as:

  • The size of your floor
  • How easy it is to access the area
  • Whether there is glue-down wood or nail-down wood
  • Pre-existing damage that needs to be repaired before refinishing hardwood floors

Additional costs

Additional cost considerations might be used to cover replacing wood floors. The state of the floor and the repair or removal of carpets and furnishings are examples. Suppose you're planning to replace your floors by sanding and refinishing them. In that case, some additional considerations are to keep in mind.

Traditional Refinishing

The simplest way to revitalize your hardwood floors is to refinish them. A flooring professional will sand down the wood, removing the top layer to reveal a fresh, clean surface.

Once this is complete, they'll apply a new coat of finish to seal the wood and protect it for years. This can be effective if you're looking for a quick turnaround time or want to avoid moving all of your furniture.

However, even with the best dust-reducing equipment, there will be dust in the air during traditional refinishing. Depending on your preferences and how long you've been in your home since your floors were last refinished, this may not be ideal.

Dustless Refinishing

The next option would be dustless refinishing. This involves the same process as traditional refinishing but uses specialized equipment and techniques that collect almost all of the dust produced by the sanding machine and keep it contained until the machine's vacuum system sucks it up. This process creates less mess.


Another factor that can affect your costs is whether or not you'll need new carpeting in any rooms adjacent to the one being refinished. While you can use plastic sheeting and duct tape to help contain most of the dust from a traditional refinish or a dustless one, some particles will inevitably escape and settle into carpeted areas nearby.

A less common alternative to dustless refinishing is carpeting. It has many advantages over other methods:

  • It takes very little time – from a couple of hours (for a small project) to several days (for larger ones).
  • Going for a sleek look, carpeting is your best option: it's easy to install and doesn't require additional maintenance.
  • If you're going for an old-fashioned look, carpeting might not be for you – but that doesn't mean you should rule out wood floors altogether! Wood floors are durable and easy to maintain; they will last many years if properly cared for.

Floor Condition

First and foremost, look at the condition of your floors before you begin. Can you tell whether they've been sanded before? If so, how many times? Finding this out can be difficult unless you ask someone around when the floor was installed in the home or by looking at hard-to-reach areas that might not have been sanded (e.g., under appliances or furniture). You can also consider contacting a professional contractor to look at the floor beforehand.


Refinishing wood floors made the list of the most popular home improvement projects for the first time in nearly twenty years. It's a project that can be a do-it-yourself job but is certainly not a simple weekend project.

There are some things to consider before you get started. The first consideration is not to confuse refinishing with resurfacing. Resurfacing involves sanding down only the top layer of the flooring and restaining it—only ideal if you have light surface damage and no deep gouges or scratches.

If you do decide that refinishing is the way to go, here are some tips for saving money:

- Rent equipment instead of buying it yourself. If you don't have a floor sander, buffer, and wood stain around your garage, you may be tempted to buy one. But unless you know that you'll use them again in the future (and most people don't), it's more cost-effective to rent what you need from a tool rental store. It might be a good idea to look around online before deciding which store to go with—some offer very good deals on equipment rental fees.


Is it cheaper to refinish hardwood floors yourself?

Refinishing hardwood floors can be an expensive prospect. The price tag can be anywhere from $1,000-$2,500, depending on the size of your house and how many rooms you're refinishing. Luckily, there are some ways to save money in this process—but you have to know what you're doing to do it right.

You'll also have to consider whether or not this is the best option for your flooring needs; there are times when it's cheaper and more efficient to replace the floor instead of refinishing it. 

Is it worth refinishing old hardwood floors?

When you have old hardwood floors, sometimes refinishing them seems like an expensive task that's not worth the effort. However, if your floors aren't warped or otherwise damaged, they can be restored to their former glory with a little time and elbow grease. And even if your floors are damaged, it might be worth salvaging what you can and using the old wood to patch up the damaged spots.

To know whether it's worth it for you to refinish the floors yourself, you need to consider:

  • If you are handy enough
  • If you have the tools
  • If your floors need serious repair work
  • How much money will you save by doing it yourself
  • How much time will you spend doing it vs. how long it would take someone else to do it

Is it cheaper to refinish hardwood floors or replace them?

It's a question haunting homeowners for decades: is it cheaper to refinish hardwood floors or replace them? How about doing the job yourself

Honestly, there's no simple answer to this question. We don't have a solid yes or no for you if you're looking for an easy way out. Everyone's situation is different, and every floor has its issues and quirks—and every homeowner has their own set of priorities regarding budget and DIY skill level.

Need professional help?

Improvix Hardwood Flooring in Chicago is here to help you with all ups and downs. If you need to refinish or restore your hardwood floors, call us at (773) 345-9719. We provide premium services at amazing prices.

Improvix  Hardwood Flooring

3745 W Montrose Ave Unit 1 Chicago IL 60618 

(773) 345-9719